Why I post daily

This was an easy decision to make, but slightly more challenging to put into practice. Some days I easily write four or five posts to queue up. Other days it’s challenging to put a sentence down.

The prompt was Seth Godin’s interview with Tim Ferris on The Tim Ferriss Show (ep. 138). “The first thing I would say is everyone should blog, even if it’s not under their own name, every single day. If you are in public making predictions and noticing things, your life gets better. Because you will find a discipline that can’t help but benefit you. If you want to do it in a diary, that’s fine. But the problem with diaries is because they’re private, you can start hiding. In public, in this blog, there it is. Six weeks ago you said this; 12 weeks ago you said that. Are you able, every day, to say one thing that’s new that you’re willing to stand behind? I think that’s just a huge, wonderful practice.”

I like looking at the world – its working philosophies; the creative industries; environmental concerns and conservation efforts; books and publishing; and many other things that come into my attention. If I’m lucky, I have an original thought about them.

At the very least I have something to say about what’s happening, or maybe I just to shine a light on it.

And the world needs perspectives – of all shades – to be shared.

Mise-en-place

Another in a series of thoughts on decluttering and belongings, the French culinary specialists have given the world mise-en-place, or everything in its place. And the principle extends beyond the kitchen. When I lived in my small home, I tried to adhere to this principle to maintain my sanity (with mixed results).

How far you take it is up to you. Maybe the bookshelves keep a clean and orderly appearance.

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Or you meticulously organize your pantry.

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On the other hand, maybe you’re lucky if everything fits on a shelf. 11844881464_95278ba223_b

Whichever side you currently find yourself on, remember that it can be better. Find a home for everything – one that looks pleasing to your eye. Then, make sure every item returns to its home after use.

If you don’t have room for everything, then that’s a discussion for a later time.

Weekly Rundown

The week that passed was a long one, I’m not going to lie. The fourteen-hour car ride back to Florida was a bit exhausting, and the trip itself wasn’t as restful as I would have liked. Nonetheless, here’s some things that I spent some time with this week.

What I’m reading: Tip of the Iceberg by Mark Adams. Just cozying up to this book as the weather is getting cold. Thinking about this past summer in Alaska, and what the future may hold.

What I’m listening to: Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9. Also known as the New World Symphony, this makes me feel like it’s Thanksgiving. I enjoy this recording from the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra.

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What I’m spending time on: Dog training.

My 60 lb. boxer is nearly seven years old, partially blind and deaf from an invitro stroke, and ultra-hyper. Breaking him of some bad habits will take a good deal of time, but I’m certain that he and I are up to the challenge.

 

Other things of interest:

  • Knives Out, written and directed by Rian Johnson. Wow, I loved this movie. I thought it was well-written, well-directed, and well-acted. With names like Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, and Christopher Plummer, it was an excellent ensemble movie. The premise – wealthy suspense novelist dead by apparent suicide following birthday party with suspicious family members – may seem trope, but it leaves you guessing until the end.
  • Where to buy books online from a website that isn’t Amazon. From Anya Zhukova, here are seven recommendations that include B&N and BAM. I also like AbeBooks and Easton Press for more obscure or special edition volumes. And I go to eBay as well. As I was linking Tip of the Iceberg, it occurred to me that I didn’t want to recommend Amazon for every book I like. So I went with GoodReads, though it is owned by Amazon. Its positives include that it links to retailers other than Amazon,  and is enhanced by its users and readers.
  • Why can’t every workweek be four days? I mean, seriously?
  • Nat Geo story on the death of the male white rhino, and the species’ coming extinction… An extinction brought about by man’s overhunting of the animal.

“Watching a creature die—one who is the last of its kind—is something I hope never to experience again. It felt like watching our own demise.” – Ami Vitale

How much does one need?

Second admission: I have too much stuff.

My last house I lived in a 750 square foot cottage on half an acre. I didn’t particularly like the house, but I loved the yard.

Moving into it, I had too much. It got crammed into nooks with no hope of me going through it. That was my fault. I hadn’t at the time learned about decluttering and minimalism. It was only when I was nearly moving out that I started getting rid of stuff. Over twenty boxes went to Goodwill, and more went in the trash. Just stuff that had accumulated.

I talk with friend about accumulation often. It’s amazing all that stuff that we keep in case we need.

Now, I’ve been in the same place for over two years. And if you’ve read the blog for a while, you know I’m a bibliophile with a penchant for acquiring new books.

But I want to live lighter. I want to live more nimbly, and more simply. With less, one is freer to travel and explore. With less, there is less to clean. Less to look through when searching for something.

How much does one need? Admittedly, much, much less than I currently have.

Weekly Rundown

What I’m reading: Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy by Robichaud and Irwin. Sometime last year I played D&D for the first time, though the campaign only lasted a few months. Some friends and I have been talking about getting back together on a weekly basis. Also being interested in Philosophy, this was an interesting find for me.

What I’m listening to: White noise. Lots and lots of white noise.

What I’m spending time with: Decluttering. Between selling things on eBay, throwing stuff out, and donated gently used items, it seems like I’ve gotten rid of so much and yet I still have too much. I’ve found that everything has a way of piling up. From the smallest receipt to the boxes that online orders come in from. I started with Marie Kondo’s book three years ago, and have waged a war in my house against excess stuff. It’s still anyone’s guess which of us will win.

Other things of interest:

  • HBO’s new series featuring the indomitable Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great. This article addresses the troubling effects of rumors, especially as they relate to women who take their sexual power seriously. A good read. Another over at The Daily Beast.
  • Star Wars Episode IX final trailer is out. Umm, I have thoughts. I’ll wait to see it, but I was underwhelmed by Episode VIII. I thought Force Awakens set up a good series, but then Last Jedi felt less like a part of the saga a more a one-off film featuring characters from the Episodes. So like I said, I’ll wait to see it.
  • Vulture’s Read Like the Wind – a new space for discovering books. I like books. They like books. It’s two for one.

Meditation on books

There are all kinds of readers. Readers who do so for leisure. Redears who only open a book when ordered to do so, or to reference a particular entry. readers who long to learn new facts, or explore new worlds. There are those who read for escape, for enlightenment, or for research. No one reader’s reason is better than another’s. The book doesn’t care.

The book itself is an extension of the human mind – a storage unit for thought. Long before the digital age, the books was developed to store, curate, and disseminate knowledge. The book welcomes all.

Bibliophiles, on some level, understand this. And I believe that all bibliophiles are readers first, whereas not all readers will become bibliophiles. Yet they all have the capacity for it – it just takes the right book.

What I’ve Read

Time frame…?

Books Bought:

  • Plato: Complete Works – Edited by John M. Cooper
  • NORTH: Finding Place in Alaska – Julie Decker, editor
  • Raven Steals the Light – Bill Reid & Robert Bringhurst
  • Travels in Alaska – John Muir
  • Nature Writing – John Muir (Library of America edition)
  • 100 Tough Questions for Japan – Itasaka Gen

Books Read:

  • Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss (unfinished)
  • Wilderness Essays – John Muir (unfinished)
  • How to Watch a Movie – David Thomson (unfinished)
  • On National Parks – John Muir (unfinished)
  • Lycanthia; or The Children of Wolves  – Tanith Lee (unfinished)
  • The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
  • The Eye Never Sleeps: Striking to the Heart of Zen – Dennis Genpo Merzel
  • Emerson: Essays and Lectures – Ralph Waldo Emerson (unfinished)
  • The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

Well, who knows. It seems like April was the last time I wrote about my book purchases and reading. So… Here’s a list. It is probably incomplete. I look at a lot of books.

During the months of May-July, my work was highly demanding. But not the real work. Just the work for a paycheck. And the pay wasn’t even that good. Sometimes it’s about trying things – picking them up, seeing if you like them. If not, you put it down and walk away.

Highlights – Alaska was the big one. I purchased two books in Alaska: Raven and NORTH. The latter was published by collaboration with the Anchorage Museum and University of Washington Press. It includes works of art in the museum collection and essays about the Last Frontier.

To say that I was moved by Alaska would be an understatement. It was magnificent, and I cannot wait to go back.

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I like to pick up books when I travel. They’re not the lightest souvenir, but I’ve always had a connection with books. In Ireland, I purchased a used copy of On the Road. In Germany, a Lutheran hymnal. While in Prague, I got a handmade notebook.

Raven Steals the Light is a collection of Native myths from the Haida people. The Raven is a trickster, and a spirit, and a god. “The Raven, who of course existed at that time, because he had always existed and always would…” It recounts many native tales of the beginnings of things, and reasons for things.

I had a lot of false starts with books. Oscar Wao, for one. I tried, but couldn’t quite bring myself to read it. Same with Emerson. Same with Lycanthia. With Muir and Thomson. I just could not bring myself to read much.

Partly I think it’s owed to my having a lot on my mind. Hence I’ve been reworking my routines. I have now been reading each night before bed, settling into Name of the Rose for about 30-45 minutes a night. Sometimes less, if I’m really tired. Umberto Eco is interesting. I remember trying to read this book shortly after graduating high school, while sitting in a wing backed cushioned chair at Barnes & Noble. I didn’t get all that far into it.

It throws you Latin, and Italian, and maybe a splattering of French. Monastic terms I’m only vaguely familiar with, and some that I’ve never heard. Under all of that though, there is mystery and intrigue. A young monk has died mysteriously. If suicide, how did the window close behind him? If murder, is the assailant man (and thereby monk?), or something infernal? The Sherlockian monk William of Baskerville will use all his reasoning to get to the bottom of it.

It led me to discover the Italian mini-series, so I’m trying to find somewhere to watch that – with subtitles, preferably.

I added the two Muir books to my collection – I had been reading some essays by him before going to Alaska. I hope to finish at least one collection of his this year. Also the writings of Plato. I found this book used, and the fact that it was edited by Edith Hamilton caught my attention. I had done some myth research two years, reading over Hamilton as well as Joseph Campbell, and I wanted to see what sort of commentary was included in this book. I haven’t gotten around to opening it though.

I did just pop open Tools of Titans. I had picked it up on sale in December, and was just reading about Ferriss’s compulsion to record data.

I’m a compulsive note-taker. To wit, I have recorded nearly every workout since age 18 or so. Roughly 8 feet of shelf space in my home is occupied by spine upon spine of notebook upon notebook. That, mind you, is one subject. It extend to dozens. Some people would call this OCD, and many would consider it a manic wild goose chase. I view it simply: It is the collection of my life’s recipes.

I too take many notes, and have amassed a pile of notebooks. Not like Ferriss – not to that extent – but I’ve been jotting things down since I was in high school, and I’ve got notebooks with varying degrees of use on my shelves, in the garage, and in storage. If I had my way, this is what my house would look like:

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Maybe my next house…